Forest Management Certification

Ensuring best practices in the forest

FSC Forest (© Morten Bo Johansson)© Morten Bo JohanssonForest Stewardship Council (FSC) Forest Management certification is a voluntary certification system available to forestry organizations who want to demonstrate responsible forest management by having their forest management planning and practices independently evaluated against FSC’s forest management standards.


Maintaining areas of environmental and social value

Forest management certification helps protect the people and plant and animal species that live in and around, and depend upon, the forest. Forest areas are often home to communities of Indigenous People who live or work on the land, and for whom the forest is a source of essential food or materials and a contributor to their traditional cultural identity. To meet social criteria, certificate holders must respect Indigenous Peoples’ land rights and enhance forest workers’ rights.

We also require forest managers to protect areas of high conservation value (HCVs). These may contain significant concentration of plant or animal species; rare, threatened, or endangered ecosystems; or areas of rare or outstanding biological, ecological, or social value.


Who can apply for Forest Management certification

Forest Management certification is applicable to all forest types and ownership structures:

  • industrial or private forest owners
  • forest license holders
  • community forests
  • government-managed forests

Forest Management certification may be granted to a single applicant, or to numerous applicants under a group certificate. Small forests and forests that are managed at a low intensity may be eligible under FSC's Small and Low Intensity Managed Forests (SLIMFs) program


Forest Management Certification Process

An independent third-party Certification Body will conduct a pre-assessment to indicate areas where forest management may not meet FSC’s Standards. Once the forest manager is sure they have filled in any gaps, they may apply for a full evaluation.

The main evaluation process is an in depth review of the forest management systems and their results on the ground. At the end of the evaluation, the assessment team reports to the forest manager regarding any areas where management does not meet the applicable requirements, known as ‘non-conformities’. The Certifier can then issue a certificate, on condition that non-conformities will be corrected or, the Certifier will not issue a certificate until the non-conformities have been solved.

All Forest Management certificates are valid for five years and are audited on an annual basis.


Small and Low Intensity Managed Forests (SLIMF)

FSC certification is now more affordable and accessible to owners and managers of small forests and forests managed under low intensity systems under the SLIMF criteria in FSC Canada’s forest management standard.

FSC certification is carried out under a modified set of procedures which streamline technical requirements that forest managers need to meet, including changes to sampling levels, simpler administration processes and a reduction in the number of reviews needed. Most importantly, this means a significant reduction in cost of FSC certification which can be an obstacle for small forest owners and managers. Learn more.


Group Certification

FSC has created Group certification as a way to provide access to certification for enterprises that already have a legal organization or support from an external organization, such as a trade association or cooperative. By centralizing the collective responsibilities of certification, group members can reduce the costs and administrative requirements of certification. Learn more.


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